Thursday, May 22, 2008

You Wanna Be In Movies, Part 4

It's easy to get on a movie set. Just drive up in a fancy car and act like you own the place. Which is not what I did, but it sounds like it.

After I had checked in, they sent me to the haircut tent,where I got my genuine, authentic 1920's style haircut. I was told to shave my mustache, shown how to trim my sideburns for the correct look. Then sent back out into the cool March afternoon.

This is when I met the Politician. He came over and commented on the 912, shocked to find out that it wasn't a new car. We discussed how we got the 'job' and did the 'where you from' thing.

We started discussing what we knew about the movie, which wasn't much. As we talked, he asked me if I wanted to see the train. Huh? Like that wouldn't get the crew's attention? I told him that the last thing I wanted to do was to get thrown off the set after I had just got there.

He just smiled and laughed, told me that he had already been through it. We started walking over towards it, then climbed aboard.

I've been on plenty of trains in my life. Taken them all over Europe and England. Other than riding subway trains in New York City, I can't remember ever being on an American train. As a boy in Memphis, I got into trouble one day, playing in the rail yards near my house. If it's got an engine, I have to check it out.

These were older cars, wooden trim, but with steel framework and brass fittings. We wandered around, avoiding the crew as they set up. The cars were in fair condition, not shiny new or over restored. What you would expect from carriages that were seeing service. They had the right look for a film.

Walking through the old cars made me realize just how much things have changed with technology. The last time I had been on a train was an old clunker that took me from London to Southampton. It had a plaque on it that stated it had been built in 1937. It creaked and rattled and felt like it was going to come apart as we banged down the tracks.

Almost like a time trip movie for me, as I had just got off the Eurostar from Paris. We had blasted across the French countryside, in a cocoon of solitude, with nary a ripple in your glass of wine. The scenery outside the window going backwards like a film in hyper reverse, at over 160 MPH. Then into the Chunnel, with the thought of all those tons of seawater pressing against the walls.

We moved through the two cars before I realized that the engine wasn't hooked up to them. The Politician pulled out a cellphone, with a built in camera. He took a few shots, then put it back in his pocket. It only took about ten minutes to look them over and then we were back outside, walking along the tracks. Other actors were arriving, checking in and getting their haircuts.

The Politician and I wound up next to his car, where his girlfriend was talking on her cellphone. He was going to take off, get ready for the big day. I grabbed my camera from my car and went back over towards the old steam engines, away from the movie train cars.

The best light in either in early morning or late afternoon. The sun was just about right for me to get some good shots of the old trains. I positioned myself in the middle of the empty parking lot, shot a few photos. Moved over to get a different angle, heard a car approaching, crunching the gravel behind me. It was a security cop.

He ordered me to come over to the car. Asked me what I was doing with the camera. Resisting the urge to make a snarky comment, I told him, "Taking pictures of the trains."

Mr. Security, who wasn't around to keep me from driving on the set unquestioned, then told me that I was in violation of the rules, laws, edicts and pronouncements of the production company. We would be going to the big tent and I would be thrown off the set.

I couldn't believe it. After just leaving the set, where the Politician had shot photos of it with his cellphone camera, here I was, getting thrown out for shooting photos of trains that weren't going to be in the movie!

Now I was upset. What the hell did I do that was such a crime? I offered to show the cop my photos, so he could see that there weren't any of the movie set.

No dice. The security cop was adamant. He grabbed up a clipboard from the passenger seat and asked me my name.

How was I going to get out of this?

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